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Thomas Markham-Uden joins us on the words to reflect on a gloomy afternoon at the Carra
Tim Krul was objectively our best player: a string of fine saves, including the two penalties and a truly remarkable reflex stop from a Martial header, coupled with his usual level of assuredness and organisation.
Onel Hernandez picks up the award this week, though, as his introduction injected life into a City side that was becoming increasingly static and in need of fresh impetus, and resulted in deservedly becoming the first Cuban born player to score in the Premier League. Extra points, too, for his bewilderingly brilliant goal celebration that left Man Utd fans so perplexed they didn’t give him any stick and a post-match interview that could have been ghost-written by an Along Come Norwich editor.
Every time I write one of these I’m never 100% sure whether this section should be ‘best’ or ‘most defining’ moment, so I’ll go with one from each.
Onel’s goal gave an indication of the impact he can have when given the opportunity and he surely must start at Brighton next weekend.
In terms of most-defining, Todd’s chance at 0-0 could have turned the game completely. I’m not saying we’d have gone on to win convincingly, but it would certainly have tested the mentality of a Man Utd making their worst ever start to a Premier League season more than we ultimately did in the first half.
I didn’t intend for this to become the Onel Hernandez appreciation column, but his appearance was such a lifeline on a generally quite gloomy afternoon it is hard to ignore. Just so I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket, the fact that we have quite a few midfielders approaching a level of fitness where they can be eligible for selection is a much needed straw to which to clutch.
Pleasing to see the half-time substitutions and a recognition that it wasn’t quite clicking for our attacking players. It was, however, a bit strange how Amadou was just left to get on with it following his injury, but then with all the substitute options used up, I suppose there’s not much more that could have been done.
It was……ok? The hastily assembled Duncan Forbes banners turned out great and there were some periods during the game when the atmosphere picked up slightly, but never quite to the level that one would expect for a home game against Man Utd.
Half-past four on a Sunday isn’t always the most conducive time for getting the collective pulses racing, and the whole VAR farce didn’t really help, but I was personally surprised that during the moments when there would normally be a ramping up of the noise (first 10 minutes, when we go a goal behind, start of the second half) it just felt a bit flatter than expected?
The way that VAR has been implemented is, without question, the single worst thing to have been introduced to football in the 25 years I have been attending.
I was always against its introduction, but even I have been shocked at the sheer level of incompetence with which it has been used so far. Match-going fans are the life blood of the game, but who cares about them when you’re slowly turning football into a mixture of a WWE main event and a shit pantomime, and lots of pompous journalists with an inflated sense of self-importance were calling for it?
The farce that followed the second penalty ‘consultation’ genuinely made me want to go home, which I know I’m not alone in thinking. Also, the sight of Man Utd players surrounding the referee, screaming in his face for a VAR review, is just the 2019 version of when Roy Keane et al used to do the same for every decision. Same shit, different season.
On another day, those two VAR decisions would have defined the game and we could have used that to paper over the increasingly developing cracks elsewhere. However, Tim Krul did his thing and so we must reflect on the fact we made yet more defensive lapses, we continue to needlessly give the ball away in midfield, and there were a worrying lack of chances for Teemu to latch on to.
A friend sent me a text afterwards saying, “I really fear for us now” and while I still think we have plenty of chances to steady the ship, the run between now and Villa on Boxing Day is going to be pivotal in determining whether we remain competitive in the mini-league at the bottom of the table, or whether we become increasingly cut adrift.
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